Dependent Family Members and the Form I-539 Application

For dependents currently in the US, a Form I-539 must be submitted to USCIS to change their status to H-4 and/or to extend their stay in the USA. The Form I-539 is completed by the H-4 spouse and includes any H-4 children. 

Only the information of the dependent(s) is entered on this form. The Form I-539 is generally the application of the spouse, not the primary visa holder (eg. it is the H-4 spouse who submits the I-539, not the H-1B worker). 

Assistance with I-539 Applications

International Scholar Services does not assist with the preparation of Form I-539 applications, as these are personal applications by individuals who do not themselves have a direct relationship with the university. We do, though, provide guidance to assist in the preparation of the paperwork. INSERT LINK TO GUIDE

Ways to File the I-539

USCIS permits online submission of Form I-539 applications in addition to accepting traditional hard copy filings. Filing online has several advantages- 

  • Your application arrives into the USCIS processing queue faster than mail delivery;
  • The chance of errors, such as with respect to which forms or filing fees apply, is reduced
  • Online filing facilitates direct communication with the USCIS, without sending or receiving paper mail. This is ideal for families who are in the process of moving at the same time as they are changing or extending immigration status. 

Alternatively, the Form I-539 may be printed in hard copy with the required supporting documents and mailed to the specific USCIS office with jurisdiction over your kind of situation.

The I-539 and Your Address

The Form I-539 asks for the address of the applicants. It specifically asks for a current residential and mailing address. The mailing address listed in the Form I-539 is the address to which the USCIS will direct their correspondence about the application -

  • the receipt confirming that they are processing the application
  • any request for further evidence that they may issue, and
  • the final decision on the application.

USCIS mail will not be forwarded to a new address, even if a mail-forwarding request is placed with the local US post office.

USCIS mail is considered 'sensitive.' if mail cannot be delivered to the address listed in the I-539, then the mail will be returned to the USCIS who then will wait for the applicant to update their address with USCIS. Accordingly, applicants must take care when submitting I-539 applications for changes or status if they also are planning to move during the time it will take the USCIS to process the application. (Note, too, that USCIS processing times may be very long - not merely the summer or semester when you are moving, but possibly two or three semesters, or longer! Click here to check USCIS processing times.)

If you anticipate a move during the processing of your I-539-

  • Make sure you timely update your address with USCIS using the AR-11
  • Submit a stable address, such as that of a non-moving colleague or friend, as your mailing address for purposes of the I-539. (Regretfully, International Scholar Services cannot serve as your mailing address.)

Form I-539 and Purdue's I-129 Petition

If a Form I-129 petition for H-1B, E-3 or TN status is being prepared by International Scholar Services, then a completed, fully collated I-539 package may be provided to your assigned International Scholar Services counselor and the I-539 can be shipped to the USCIS at the same time as the I-129. Please note that we will not assemble the package, or review the paperwork or filing fee(s) attached. We strongly recommend that you retain a fully copy of the paperwork for your own records. 

If the I-539 application is submitted to the USCIS at the same time as the I-129-

  • The USCIS will separate the I-539 and move it to the processing line responsible for I-539 adjudication. The timelines for each filing - the I-129 petition and the I-539 application - are separate and distinct.
  • The USCIS will send its confirmation of receipt to the mailing address in the I-539, not to International Scholar Services. Similarly, it will send its decision on the I-539 to the mailing address listed in the I-539. 

Filing Fees for the Form I-539

The USCIS charges a fee to process the I-539 application.

The online filing tool of the USCIS calculates the I-539 filing fee for you.

For paper submissions, USCIS lists the filing fees for the I-539 on its webpage; however, sometimes filing fees change and the changes can be explained in a confusing way, and sometimes, the USCIS presentation of information in general is not as clear as might be desired. 

USCIS has a Fee Calculator on its website that is extremely easy to use. We strongly recommend that families transmitting a hard copy I-539 filing to the USCIS utilize the USCIS Fee Calculator to ensure that their filing fee payment is accurate.